Samuel Dorsi - Jul 6, 2009
The ESTA is supposed to make it easier for visa free tourist to visit the U.S. However several senators now want to establish a fee for international tourists to fund a government-run tourism advertising campaign.


The US has launched the ESTA for Visa Waiver Program travelers on August 1, 2008. According to US officials, the system makes traveling to the US easier and it also brings more security as the officials receive important info about the travelers. The ESTA should eventually replace paper forms but it has not yet done so completely.

The introduction of the system has definitely influenced the tourism sector. With the VWP expanding in 2008 more tourists come from the new member countries. For example the number of visitors from the Czech Republic has increased by 50 per cent. It is expected that some 70 000 Czechs will visit US this year which makes the country the only world’s destination to record a steep growth in the number of Czech visitors. According to the US Customs and Border Protection officials, eight million international travelers have already used the ESTA.

 The Visa Waiver Program certainly helps the incoming tourism industry in the U.S. There is, however, an act that could go against the aims of the VWP. The US Senate will vote on the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The intention is to charge international tourists from visa waiver countries with a compulsory 10 USD fee. The money would be then used for a government-run tourism advertising campaign.

It does not make much sense to first allow the foreigners to enter the country without paying visa fees and consequently establish another fee. This act would certainly not do the best promotion for the US tourism, especially in time of crisis when the traveler’s budgets are tightened.


All about the Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA)

There is no fee for the registration in the system so applicants should not let themselves mislead by companies that offer facilitation of this service for money. ESTA serves 35 members of the Visa Waiver Program, which are mainly European countries. Registration in the ESTA does not enable foreigners to work in the US. It enables travelers to stay in the US for 90 days but only for business trips, tourism, or transit.  A visitor needs to apply online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov 72 hour prior to their trip to the US. The “permit” is then valid for 2 years or till the traveler"s passport expires. It is important to mention that the passport needs to include biometric data.





USA to Become Visa Free? 


  1. Yet another example of the U.S. authorities complete misconception of tourism marketing and promotion. How can they plan to charge intl. visitors to come to the country while proclaiming that they want to make things easier. I can't understand how such a developed nation still is not able to see the importance of tourism industry and of systematic and united destination marketing. Even many poor countries have discovered that tourists are a great source of money. How so they don't understand it in the US?

  2. A visa fee may act as a deterent to visitors who go for short visit or shopping trips to the US

    Maybe better publicity would be to say we don't charge you for our visa.

    (United Kingdom)
  3. Humm, something seems wrong with this....I wonder....Oh right I got it: Nickel and dime people who register to come into the United States legally while the illegals get another free ride. Congress can’t pass legislation on our country’s out of control immigration matters, but they have no problem coming up with this moronic idea. How embarrassing! I hope all the tourists take their vacations elsewhere!!


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